Turning Services into Marketing Products

Can you turn your services into products? 
 What the hell do you sell?

Does your target audience really understand what services you provide? Whether you are in a business to business (B2B) or business to consumer (B2C) market, how sure are you that what you do for customers is understood? You may be crystal clear how much work is involved in creating a web site, sales collateral, conducting research interviews or dozens of other projects. But what happens when your client is an inexperienced rookie? 

Selling an Intangible
I spoke to several colleagues who are marketing consultants over the last month about this question. They all serve the small to mid-sized companies and focus on a range of services from copy writing, graphic design, public relations services, customized research and video production. One of my friends does strategic planning for mid-sized companies who need clarity and direction for growth. What emerged from these discussions was that they all have the same repeatable issue that pops up over and over.

They are trying to sell something to folks who don’t often get it.

In digging a bit deeper, what I uncovered is that most of their new and potential customers understood how to buy things when they were made into a product but were confused by services. (I am reluctant to use the clunky word productize but it’s a common word used to turn a service into a product).  

They would meet business owners who wanted some help with marketing but they didn’t have a clue what they needed or how to buy it.  It would be like saying I am hungry and need nutrients - just bring me some. Or when you go to a florist and instead of having loose flowers they put them into bunches or arrangements and sell them as a product. 

When you sell your work by the hour, clients often fear you are going to “milk” them and overcharge. When you charge by the product versus the hour, the focus shifts to what you deliver not what you receive from the customer.

My recommendation to each of them was to make it easier to sell what they offered by creating a menu. Take each area of work and create a good, better and best for each category so that potential clients would understand what my friends were selling.

A simple example is what my graphic design buddy did. He often would go through several reviews and expenses like stock photos that his clients didn’t think they should pay for. So he took a page out of the restaurant business and developed a menu that had three types of brochures.

Turning hourly services into products
Today's Specials 

This brochure cost $895 and involved design only and two rounds of reviews. He offered three style choices. His time commitment to the good level was 8 hours. He wouldn’t do any copy writing and the client had to supply all the text. This brochure would involve 2 stock photos in addition to whatever the client provided. All of this was spelled out in great detail so there was no confusion on what you get for $895. 

His product offering cost $2,900 and involved two different comps or mockups, three rounds of review and a commitment of 20 hours of his design/layout time. He would provide 3 hours of copy writing assistance and would have a budget for 4 stock photos. Five styles and sizes were available at this level of product offering.   

The third version which was the top of the line would cost $6,200 and involved three mock ups, 8 hours of copy writing services and 30 hours of design time. He would provide 10 stock photos and would get 2 price quotes on printing the job from reliable local vendors based on quantities needed. In this case he would customize designs and allow far more interaction between the client and the design options. 

In turning a brochure into 3 levels of product, he could help the inexperienced novice who he often works with understand what they were buying up front. He could show them examples from the good, better and best categories. Most importantly, he defined how much time and review each project would involve from start to finish. 

His results were very positive over the last year. What he found was that more inexperienced clients liked the predictable cost for the full package. Often they would buy the $895 version but ended up agreeing to added services to get just what they wanted. So the product became an easy to understanding starting point for each job. 

Setting Expectations
Do you sell a service that may be clear to you but difficult for your clients to understand? In the case of marketing professionals, you know how much work is involved in putting together a project but you often deal with very inexperienced clients who really don’t understand the work involved in putting together a brochure, a video or a small PR campaign. How can you package up hours of work into something concrete? 

Can you help set a client's expectation? 
The best part of this approach is that both the marketing firm/consultant and the client agree up front on cost, time and the deliverable. Turning a service into a product makes it predictable, easier to communicate and more satisfying for everyone. When a client understands the value that is delivered in each packaged offering you have helped to set expectations which can lead to higher satisfaction rates.

Can you turn your service into products that are part of your menu?

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